The Story of Boone’s First Mosque – Appalachia

Boone welcomed a new mosque in July, making it the first official mosque in the High Country.

Located at 643 Greenway Road #G, the Islamic Center of Boone opened to the public on July 1. The mosque allows Muslims to pray, connect with each other and access resources, and invites non-Muslims to learn more about the religion.

The Islamic Center opens at 1:30 p.m. and holds its Jumaah prayer at 2 p.m. on Fridays, according to its website. Bill Austin, a member of the mosque, wrote that half of the sermon is delivered in Dari, one of the two main languages ​​used in Afghanistan, and the other half in English.

Boone resident Michael Watts said it was his first appearance on Aug. 12. Watts contacted the university’s Muslim Student Association in June to ask if Boone had been granted a mosque after reading an article about the lack of mosques in Boone by Appalachia from 2012. He was told that one had “luckily” opened.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Watts said.

The mosque is less than a five-minute drive from campus. Those wishing to depart from campus can also take the red route on AppalCart, which stops at the Watauga Opportunities bus stop, located across from the mosque.

Khurram Tariq, president of ICB, said that before the opening of this mosque, he should travel every week to worship.

“I used to drive every Friday to the local mosque, and the nearest mosque was about an hour and 20 minutes away,” Tariq said. “If you can imagine, it’s expensive for you to do this every Friday.”

Khadija Fouad, a mosque member and professor of biology at App State, said some of the places Muslims have had to go to pray include Morganton, High Point, Winston Salem and Charlotte. Each mosque is over an hour’s drive from Boone.

“It’s amazing to be able to attend the Jumaah prayer here,” Fouad said. “Being able to do that here has been wonderful.”

Tariq came up with the idea of ​​establishing a place where Muslims in Boone can come to worship after noticing that Muslims were leaving Boone soon after arriving here due to a lack of Islamic resources such as a mosque. and halal restaurants.

Khurram Tariq, an oncologist and hematologist at Watauga Medical Center, poses for a portrait at the Boone Islamic Center. Many members of the Masjid consider Khurram to have played a key role in shaping and bringing together Muslims in the high country which led to the formation of the Boone Islamic Center. (Samuel Cooke)

“They start looking for these resources, but they won’t find anything,” Tariq said. “They would leave in a year.”

Tariq also said that one of the reasons for establishing a mosque in Boone was to grow the Muslim community in the High Country, as well as to “bring communities together”.

The beginning of the establishment of the mosque began when Tariq’s mother met the first fellow Muslim she had ever seen in Boone, at a grocery store. They shared their contact details.

Likewise, Tariq met with ICB Treasurer Marina Batchelor at the Boone Cancer Center and had a similar meeting, sharing her contact details. From there, Tariq started finding more Muslims and keeping in touch with them.

“Little by little, we started to meet, and that’s how the community came together,” Tariq said.

Tariq then decided to create a WhatsApp group chat, where he added all the Muslims he met in Boone, and encouraged others in the chat to do the same.

Shortly after creating the group chat, Tariq said that refugees from Afghanistan had arrived in Boone and needed resources. Tariq got in touch with them and they soon joined the Boone Muslim Community as well.

After communicating in the group chat, the members decided it was time to finally meet. The group had planned to meet during Ramadan, but had to look for a place where they could meet. They were soon able to rent the top floor of the Boone Professional Center and organize Ramadan together.

It was a week of many firsts, Tariq said. Batchelor told Tariq and the other attendees how, in his 15 years living in Boone, it was the “first time Muslims had come together like this.” Another attendee told Tariq that this was the first time their son had heard the call to prayer.

“It was a very emotional moment for all of us,” Tariq said.

After Ramadan, the guests wanted to start meeting more regularly. However, Tariq was worried about where they would get the funds to hire, as the professional center charged on an hourly basis. As a result, the guests donated money and worked together to find a permanent space.

Tariq said finding a space was “so difficult”.

“We were all looking and we didn’t find anything,” Tariq said.

After seeing different properties, Tariq knew they still didn’t have the funds to rent them out. He told the owner of what would soon be their permanent location that they only needed the space for an hour once a week. The owner let them use the space for free temporarily.

After being given the space, they hosted their first congregation in the space ahead of its official opening on July 1. About nine people showed up.

“When we found this place and had our first meeting, everyone was like, ‘No. Let’s go and rent this place. Let’s just ask this person how much they would like for the rent,'” Tariq said.

They were told $1,400 plus utilities. Tariq asked the members if anyone would like to contribute to the cost.

“To my surprise, everyone contributed,” Tariq said. “Some people contributed $41, and others $200 and more.”

They still lacked money. Tariq said he received a message on WhatsApp one night around 10 p.m., but chose not to look at it until the next day. The next morning, he called them and they donated $600, bringing their total funds above their goal of $1,400.

“I had tears of joy,” Tariq said. “We started from nothing. We didn’t have a community at first, and we were about to establish our own mosque.

Since its opening, members and visitors to the mosque have donated items such as rugs, doormats, shoes, decorations and more.

“The community came together, and the way it came together was just phenomenal,” Tariq said.

The mosque plans to add other resources for Muslims, such as having a halal meat freezer in their kitchen to donate to those in need, Zoom meetings, community events and incorporating and offering resources from Islamic Circle of North America.

Tariq hopes that the mosque will continue to serve the Muslim and non-Muslim community in the future, and hopes that those who attend will appreciate the efforts made to establish the mosque.

“It’s not fancy at all and it’s small, but it’s ours,” Tariq said.

Muslim students interested in joining the mosque can contact the President of the Muslim Student Association at [email protected] Interested community members can contact the mosque at [email protected]

“Everyone is welcome,” Fouad said. “It’s friendly and welcoming. »